The Man Born to be King

Good guidance from a fellow blogger (and wife).

The Man Born to be King.

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The arrogance and hypocrisy of Stephen Fry

So Mr Fry, you are judge, jury and executioner for God because some people get cancer, or illness; because God allows suffering.  I am reminded of your character Melchet sentencing Blackadder to death for killing his favourite pigeon.

You assume that God can do anything and so he must be able to prevent all cancer and suffering, and therefore He must be evil to allow it.  What trivial thinking from a man purported to be intelligent. What arrogance to presume to be worthy to judge.

Can God make a square circle?  Of course not, and it’s silly to suggest that he can.

Can God make a universe that spawns intelligent, purposeful life without any pain or discomfort?  Of course not, and it’s silly to suggest that he can.

So should God not have bothered?

Would you, Mr Fry, rather live, love and die with pain in your life or not live at all?  You have a choice, and your daily choice seems to be continue to live.

Whenever you get into a car Mr Fry, you risk running over an innocent child, inflicting anguish on their parents.  You cause actual damage to the ecosystem of the planet, and consequential pain and suffering in those less privileged than yourself.  You choose to damage your fellow human beings when you actually do have an alternative.

You convict God for allowing suffering, should you not be lambasting the Ford motor company for creating machines that cause such carnage?  It is impossible to make a car that does not risk causing death and damage to the planet, yet we all choose the benefit and accept the consequence.

Do you not feel a hint of hypocrisy in living as you do and yet criticising the one who has given you the opportunity?

 

 

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I think I might be a panentheist – I hope it’s catching!

The ancient Celts knew a thing or two. They were not the wild fighters who the Sheriff of Nottingham brought in to drive Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood from his idyllic woodland village. They had a special understanding of the nature of things. According to “The Celtic Way” by Ian Bradley they held “a conviction that the presence of God was to be found throughout creation – in the physical elements of earth, rock and water, in plants trees and animals and in the wayward forces of wind and storm.”

Bradley goes on to say that “We are not in the world of pantheism here but in the much more subtle and suggestive realm of panentheism – the sense that God is found both within creation and outside it.”

Elsewhere I have written that God is ‘the laws of physics’ – it’s just another name for the thing which causes matter to behave in the way that it does. Without God/’the laws of physics’ there can be no matter – God and matter are not independent, and so matter is (part of) God. (see “Proof of God?”)

I have also noted that there are non-material things: love, justice, purpose etc. These must similarly be part of God – reflected in the Biblical passages which state that God is love. (see “An argument for, and definition of God”)

This understanding of the nature of God leads us to realise that you don’t need to go somewhere to meet God – he doesn’t live in church or a monastery – he is all around us, and within us, sustaining our physical bodies and our environment: “we are what we are through and within God”. (see “The God of Science”)

The Celts understood this. Not within the scientific context that I have described, but in the practical day-to-day knowledge of God. Perhaps we need to refresh our view and understanding of science to reflect this Celtic wisdom: science is simply the study of God!
There is no separate sacred / secular division, no God / nature division, no heaven / earth division; they are all part of God who is God of everything.

 

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A robust intellectual basis for Christianity is not enough.

I like to understand why things are like they are. As a child I was taught that science provides the answers that I needed.

When in later life I became a Christian I thought that there was a conflict between science and God, but for a while reconciled this with the idea that ‘God can do anything’. A simple idea, but science and faith was not an area that I really wanted to explore.

We are given the impression that ‘science knows’, but we just haven’t been told yet. About five years ago I decided to find out. What does science know? What does it still not know? Are there things it can never know? Taking everything into account, what story best fits all the facts, a godless universe or one with a God?

I adopted an analytical approach, but avoided the temptation to dig too deeply into details of each field. I just tried to understand the underlying principles sufficiently to see what they contribute to the big picture. I found that most people feel uncomfortable outside of their specialist field, that few seem willing to take the necessary overview.

Having read a couple of books like ‘The Edge of Evolution” by the Intelligent Design proponents I began thinking that it may be possible to prove God exists. But then I read secular books on the origins of life and realised that everyone accepts the remarkable unlikelihood of life but that it doesn’t provide irrefutable proof – there are alternative explanations such as the multiverse theory.

I needed to find out where the Bible came from; could I trust it, and if so, why? I researched the source of the NT documents in particular, and some of the gospel accounts that are excluded from the Bible (the Da Vinci code stuff). I realised that the gospel accounts are not trying to prove who Jesus was and what he did, but that they wouldn’t have been written if he hadn’t done some amazing things. The accounts are simply people trying to capture what happened for future generations. The Bible is not a spells book: “Do this and God will do that for you”.

I reached a number of conclusions about how to understand and respond to the big picture of what’s going on. Realising that everything requires a level of faith (including science of course), I suggest a response which recognises that many religious and scientific dogmas are unproven and unprovable – but unnecessary. I call the response “Minimalist Christianity”. I wrote up what I found in “The Big Picture”, found a publisher and then set about marketing my masterpiece.

There is a robust intellectual basis for Christianity, and I would commend it to others, but I recently realised that in exploring it I was falling into a bit of a trap. Because I have necessarily spent several years testing and probing, viewing things sceptically, I let my personal spiritual life become analytical too. My reasoning has shown that God exists, and that he must have a ‘personality’ and want to interact with each of us, but I have not really been responding to the real God – just developing an intellectual one.

We need to ‘get to know God’ as more than an idea; I need to follow my own advice! It is from the integrity of that relationship that the power to fulfil our purpose will flow. We need analysis to know that we can trust, but then we need to act on that trust to complete the experience. Having determined that the rock exists, we need to actively build the house of our life on it!

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” Jesus circa 30AD

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“Je suis Nigerian”

They may not be white Europeans, and they may have done nothing to provoke the attack, but is it any less horrific?  Can the world do nothing to help?  Let us at least show that we care:  #jesuisnigerian

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/nigerias-forgotten-massacre-2000-slaughtered-by-boko-haram-but-the-west-is-failing-to-help-9970355.html

http://www.vox.com/2015/1/10/7525199/nigeria-boko-haram-attack

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2015/01/boko-haram-massacre-toll-possibly-2000-201511004229409787.html

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“Here, there be dragons”

Centuries ago many people used to live their entire lives within a few miles of where they were born. Occasionally travellers would pass through with tales of far-away places which held wonders, treasures and maybe ‘dragons’. But few would dare cross the borders surrounding their small world of familiarity.

Dragon-Linda_BlackWin24_JanssonNowadays many people again live their entire lives within a relatively small environment. Maybe it is not physical, since modern transportation puts the whole world within reach, but I’m speaking of relationships, culture and spirituality.

Our sphere of friends is gathered through encounters where we like to pass our time: work, the sports club, the toddler group or school, the pub. We meet like-minded people in comfortable environments and put down roots there. Occasional travellers pass through with tales of other lifestyles: we get peeps at them on the TV reality shows, a foreigner might join our band, or a tragedy might move us out of our comfortable world. But “few dare cross the borders of their small world of familiarity”, and most will lobby to maintain their personal utopia.

We understand how the world works through what we have learned through personal experience, the media and common sense.  With our Western worldview glasses we know such things as: the economy has to be healthy, everyone should be educated and democracy is the only system that works. And of course we should all have rights, to health, happiness and freedom, particularly freedom of speech. We seldom stop to question the basis on which we have decided that all of these ‘truths’ are correct. When we hear tales of other cultures we are fearful that they will invade our territory and bring unimaginable horrors and suffering.

But perhaps we are most fearful of uncharted spiritual seas. England used to be a Christian nation, although deeply divided between Protestant and Catholic, but has largely come to believe in Scientism; the religion that science can explain everything. It can be comforting to think that science can tell us why Grandma died, and to hope that in the future cancer will be conquered. Occasionally we will hear tales of a spiritual realm, something that is not simply made of ‘stuff’, and strangers will speak of God and tell us that we have a ‘soul’. A frequent response is to ignore such ramblings, or to accept that such things may be ‘okay’ for them, but I’m quite happy in my own ideas thank you very much.

Secretly, if we are bold enough to ask ourselves, we will admit that our small-world outlook is largely driven by fear. We are afraid that we will lose our basis for life, even if it doesn’t seem to be working too well for us at the moment. We would love to befriend those in different circles, experience different cultures, and reach a satisfying understanding of who we are spiritually; we yearn to find our soul and our purpose.

It is the beginning of a new year: 2015. Two thousand and fifteen years after a special baby was born. Who as a man spoke strange tales of a spiritual realm and a God. A man whose words gave us a rock to build our lives on. A man who willingly allowed himself to be crucified to show that death could not hold him – or us. A man who Christians call God. Perhaps it is time to take our courage in our hands and explore this strange new land? Many have gone there before, but few have returned with tales of dragons! Instead, they come back with stories of hope and fulfilled purpose; the promised land. Shall we go?

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Do we worship the same God?

There is and can only be one God.

I am not going to defend that statement but to take it as read and see where it leads in the context of different religions.  If you don’t want to accept the statement, this post is not for you so please don’t waste your time and energy reading further.

There is and can only be one God.

That one God is love.  Without God there can be no love.  And so each and every act of love is an act of God.  If a Christian loves, that is God within them.  If a Moslem loves then that is God within them.  If an atheist loves that is God within them.

That one God created and sustained the universe. He sends the rain on the good and the bad.  His laws of science knit us together in our mother’s womb, allow us to experience the world, and present us with the alternatives of love or hate, good or evil.

That one God has made each of us as an individual.  Each of us is a ‘me’.  He has given us freedom to choose to love or hate, to be good or evil.  As individuals we choose.  If we choose to love we choose God whether we know it or not, whether we are Christian, Moslem, Hindu, atheist, agnostic or Jedi.

If someone prays to the single God, creator and sustainer of the universe, to the God who is love, the God who is goodness and power, does it matter what religion they are in?

If someone chooses love and goodness, does it matter what religion they are in?

What is religion? According to the Oxford dictionary it is:

“The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods”

and

“A particular system of faith and worship”

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/religion

A follower of one religion can challenge whether the “system of faith and worship” of another religion is accurate.  A Christian can reasonably challenge whether what Islam teaches about what is right and wrong is right – but can a Christian challenge which God a Moslem is praying to? Or vice versa?

Can a Christian say that a Moslem worships a different God?  Or can the Christian only say to the Moslem that “you don’t know God like I do”?

I don’t need to use Christians and Moslems for the example.  I could have used Evangelical and Liberal Christians, Protestants and Catholics.

I believe that the teaching of Christ is the best description of what God intends for each of us, and that Jesus life and death are the greatest demonstration of how God loves each and every one of us.  I can guide others to the same source of love and goodness that I have found, but am I to criticise and judge them if they do not understand the Bible in the same way that I do?  Isn’t my job to love, and aren’t I supposed to leave the judgement up to God?

Isn’t religions job to help me do my job?  Surely religion is not there to put obstacles in the way of me loving others?

What does God think of all the conflict that is caused by religious dogmatism about what he is like?  Does he simply want us to get on with loving Him, and loving our neighbour as ourselves?

Grace and love to you all.

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